Heading Right And BTR Team Coverage Of Republican Debate

The first Republican presidential primary debate airs tomorrow night at 7 pm CT — and Blog Talk Radio and Heading Right will team up to cover it. The entire team at Heading Right will be posting live at the site, offering a running conversation as the 90-minute debate progresses. Over a dozen top conservative BTR hosts will debate the debate, live, at the site. Some will also live-blog the debate on their home blogs.
At 9 pm CT, about thirty minutes after the end of the event, we will launch Debate Central, a new debate forum for BTR. I will moderate a post-debate roundtable with a number of BTR hosts for 30 minutes. We’ll talk about the highs and lows, who gained and who lost ground, and the impact on the early primary efforts. We can even take your calls, live, to address how you felt about the debates — so be sure to remember to call 646-478-4565 during the live broadcast. As always, you can download the show as a podcast minutes after the completion of the show.
We hope you will join the conversation at both Heading Right and Debate Central!
UPDATE: My good friends at Power Line have a new electoral effort in their forums called Candidates Forum. It gives readers an aggregate site for communications from several of the presidential candidates. Video, audio, and press releases can now all be found in one convenient location. Be sure to bookmark it througgh 2008.

CQ Radio: Debate Coverage (Updated)

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In today’s installment of CQ Radio, I will be reviewing a blogger conference call with the White House and Tony Snow. I’ll review the hot stories of day, and announcing the Heading Right debate coverage for Thursday. I may have a couple of surprise guests as well, so tune in! Join the conversation by calling 646-652-4889.
BREAKING: The President will make a statement today at 6:10 PM ET today explaining why he will veto the supplemental. The White House will transmit the veto to Congress tomorrow, and the House will vote to override in the morning. They’ll lose, and the White House will meet the Congressional leadership later that day to determine how to proceed.

CQ Radio Today: Victory Caucus

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Today’s installment of CQ Radio (2 pm CT) welcomes NZ Bear from the Victory Caucus to discuss the developments yesterday in the Senate. We’ll talk about Joe Lieberman, the two Republican defections, what we can expect from the President and when, and what we can do to make a difference. NZ’s been able to reschedule for today, and we’ll get an update on the progress of the Iraq supplemental as well as discuss Sam Brownback’s alliance with Joe Biden to split Iraq into three proto-states.
Be sure to join us at 646-652-4889! We’d love to get you into the conversation. And make sure you’re keeping up with the conversation at Heading Right!

CQ Radio: Michael Zak, Victory Caucus

UPDATE: NZ couldn’t make it today, but hopefully we can get together on Monday. Michael and I had an excellent conversation, and James Boyce called from MS-NBC and talked about the Democratic debates. You can listen to the entire download at this link — just as you can with all CQ Radio and BTR shows.
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Today’s installment of CQ Radio (2 pm CT) welcomes Michael Zak, author and blogger. He has a message for the Republican Party and that message is Back To Basics. He blogs at the Grand Old Partisan, and joins us in the first half to discuss how the Republicans need to proceed in order to regain power.
We’ll also talk again with NZ Bear from the Victory Caucus to discuss the developments yesterday in the Senate. We’ll talk about Joe Lieberman, the two Republican defections, what we can expect from the President and when, and what we can do to make a difference.
Be sure to join us at 646-652-4889! We’d love to get you into the conversation. And make sure you’re keeping up with the conversation at Heading Right!

CQ Radio Today: Chris Muir

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For today’s installment of CQ Radio, we’ll talk with Chris Muir, the cartoonist behind Day By Day. Chris does not shy away from controversy, and his entry for today shows that he likes to challenge taboos on both right and left. We are going to discuss the firestorm that erupted with today’s cartoon, plus Chris’ trip to Iraq, his philosophy for his art, the use of suggestive imagery in defense of conservatism, and much, much more.
Be sure to join the conversation today by calling 646-652-4889!
BUMP: To top.

CQ Radio: Heading Right And Rick Moran

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Today’s installment of CQ Radio will feature one of my good friends in the blogosphere, Rick Moran of the Right Wing Nut House. Rick has written excellent commentary for serious conservatives for the last few years at his site, and he has now joined Blog Talk Radio as a show host. Today we’ll pick Rick’s brain on a number of issues he covers at his site and talk about his new BTR show. I especially want to talk about his criticism of the Pentagon over the way they handled the Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch stories.
We’ll also talk about the launch of Heading Right, the new group blog for conservative BTR hosts, and what we plan to build at the new site. Rick and I join an excellent group of bloggers at HR, which will feature fresh content and commentary as well as discussions about upcoming shows. Be sure to join the conversation by calling 646-652-4889 between 2-3 pm CT today!
BUMP: To top. Be sure to listen live at the link above!

New Blog: Heading Right

Part of the effort for my new position at Blog Talk Radio involves building the community of conservative radio hosts at BTR. Since all of us are bloggers, creating a central blog to highlight the hosts, their blogs, and a new narrative made the most sense. We have launched Heading Right, which we hope to create as its own destination for hot links and hot debate among the conservative and libertarian BTR hosts.
And we have a great start on building that stable of writers! Here are the bloggers we already have:
Rick Moran
Pam Oshry
Jim Lynch
David Odeen
Kit Jarrell
Mike Ryan
Douglas Gibbs
Jaco Pastorius
With a line-up like this — and the writers we will be adding — the conversation will get heated in no time! Be sure to keep up with the latest from your favorite BTR hosts at Heading Right. You can add the RSS feed to your reader to watch the conversation unfold as it happens.

CQ Radio Transcript: Duncan Hunter, Part II

Here is the second half of my conversation with Duncan Hunter on the inaugural installment of the daily CQ Radio show. Part 1 can be found here.
EM: Let’s move on to the borders. Now, you live nearby the border in southern California, and obviously this is an issue politically. How susceptible are we on the southern border to terrorist infiltration because of our border situation?
DH: Well, we’re very susceptible to infiltration of anything because we have essentially open borders, except for the small area in California where I built the double border fence. Let me tell you, as a congressman who represented that area, what we had in the mid-1980s was basically a no-man’s-land between San Diego, California and Tijuana, Mexico. In that area, what I call Smuggler’s Corridor #1, was the area through which most of the people and most of the narcotics that came into the entire United States were smuggled. They came through that narrow gap. So we built the double border fence, and at the time that we built it, we had armed gangs that roamed that no-man’s land. They often robbed the illegal aliens; many of them carried automatic weapons. They would abuse the women, and it was so terrible that we had a plainclothes police force that dressed like illegal aliens, headed by a Sergeant Lopez, who came from the San Diego Police Department. They would hang around by the border, wait for the border gangs to attack them, then they would pull their weapons and they’d have either a shootout or a series of arrests. It was that bad.
Nobody would go down to the border at night, and of course it was the center of the American smuggling industry because we have two massive freeways that went right down to the border. Once they got across, people or narcotics, they would immediately be on those freeways and gone. I built the double border fence and we reduced the smuggling of people and narcotics by more than 90%. Let me tell you, my fence is not that scraggly little fence you see on CNN with people climbing over it. Nobody climbs over my fence. It’s a double fence; you’ve got a steel fence on the border. True, they can get over that fence because they can put a ladder up to it. They then have to run across a 50-yard wide high-speed border patrol road inside the United States that parallels the border. Then they’ve got a 15-foot high fence with a large overhang to it. And what happens is you have border patrol patrolmen patrolling in between the fences, and when the smugglers come across, they get trapped between the two fences. Because of that, we reduced smuggling of people and narcotics by more than 90% in that sector, and we would reduce it way down close to 100%, but the environmentalists kept us from closing a three-mile gap in the fence because they claim that the flora and the fauna and the birds would not migrate over that particular section of fence. They kept it open for a number of years, and we’re just now getting permission to close it. But when we built that border fence, we reduced smuggling of people and narcotics by more than 90%, we stopped the border murders, and we stopped all the drug drive throughs, and let me tell you something else: the crime rate in the City of San Diego by FBI statistics since we built the border fence has fallen 53%. There is a large criminal population that goes back and forth across the border, and right now in America’s penitentiaries, local prisons and jails, we have over 250,000 criminal aliens. Those are people who have come across to hurt Americans, many violent crimes, some of them these MS-13 gang members who are so violent their home countries won’t take them back. We spend 3 billion dollars a year putting those people up, incarcerating them. We would save enough money in one year of incarceration to be able to build 1,000 miles of border fence.
So in October, I wrote a bill that was put in…the provisions that were put into the Homeland Security bill that passed the Senate, passed the House, and the President signed that extends the San Diego border fence, the double fence, 854 miles across Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. That is now a law that that fence is supposed to be built. So far, the Department of Homeland Security with its great lack of speed, has only built two miles of that border fence. They started it at Yuma, Arizona. As President of the United States, I will finish that fence. I’ll build it from start to finish in six months. It’s just a fence. You take sections of that fence and you give them to individual contractors and they all start with a one- or a two-mile section at the same time; they build it concurrently, and we can do a great deal to sew up our borders within six months with the border fence, which is now the law, and there’s now $1 billion cash on hand sitting at the Department of Homeland Security available to build the border fence. You elect Duncan Hunter President of the United States; you’re going to have a border fence.
EM: Well, Congressman Hunter, the border fence bill was passed last year. There’s been some talk that the Congress might reverse that this year, and also that the current administration isn’t exactly enthusiastic about building that fence and might drag their heels on it. What are you hearing about that?
DH: Here’s the answer to that. When I mandated the construction of the border fence in San Diego under the Clinton Administration, when the Republicans took control of Congress in ’94, I wrote the bill that mandated that we build that fence in the number one smuggler’s corridor in San Diego. That was a triple fence. The Clinton Administration did not like it and they said, “Well, we’d rather not.” I said, “Look at the words I used. The word is ‘shall’. It doesn’t say you might do it. It doesn’t say it’d be a good idea. It says you shall build a border fence. That’s the law; now build it.” The Clinton Administration confronted the fact that it was the law, that they were ordered to build it, that the law was signed by the President, and they built the border fence. So, if I used exactly the same language in writing the bill this year that says take the San Diego fence and build it all the way across 854 miles of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas; I used exactly the same mandatory language; and the Bush Administration is under exactly the same mandate, and they need to follow the law. Now if you call Homeland Security, they’ll say, “Yes, we’re going to follow the law,” but you can tell that they’re obviously not enthusiastic about building it. It’s been four months now and they’ve built a total of about two miles. Now that’s either massive ineptitude, or it’s a desire to tap dance on this thing and hope that somebody changes the law. But actually it’s the law right now that the fence be built. It’s not a suggestion, and it’s not a discretionary thing where they can do this or something else. It says 854 miles of real fence.
EM: Let me ask you now about the War on Terror. It’s obviously another key part of your platform. Do you think that we’ve lost our way in the War on Terror at this point?
DH: No, I think that the war against terror does not come wrapped in a neat package. It involves many, many dimensions. It involves American forces and intelligence capabilities in lots of remote parts of the world and actually, in a way, we’ve done a lot of things right. You know if people were going to make a bet on 9/11 as to whether or not we would be hit again over the next six years, probably most folks would vote that we probably would be. They would think that it was logical to feel that we would be struck again. One reason we haven’t been struck again, first we’ve been very fortunate, one reason we haven’t been is that we’ve gone after the bad guys aggressively. It’s tough to be able to put together a plan for a strike of the United States if some of your planners don’t show up because they’re dead. We aggressively went after the bad guys, and the Administration should be commended for that. Let’s not blast everything that we’ve done with our intelligence and our military apparatus, because we’ve done a lot of things right. This war is a difficult war with lots of dimensions. It’s not a war that’s going to culminate with a surrender on the Battleship Missouri; it’s a war that’s going to take a lot of American endurance. Sometimes endurance and patience is a quality that we have a short supply of. We have to develop patience and endurance.
We are bolstering our intelligence capability. That’s extremely difficult to do. It’s extremely difficult to penetrate places like the Middle East with our intelligence apparatus. We had an intelligence apparatus that really was shaped for Europe. It was shaped for the Cold War, and you have lots of people who if you asked them to go out in our agencies and try to recruit folks who are operatives in the Middle East, you’re going to get blank stares. They don’t have language skills, they don’t have contacts, and intelligence apparatus, especially the human part, is very painstakingly put together. We’re slowly putting that together.
EM: What have we done in the five years to try to get the people with the language skills and try to penetrate some of those areas? We’ve talked about remaking the intelligence community since 9/11, and it’s been kind of a slow process. Do you think that we, I mean have we made much progress at all there?
DH: Yeah, we’ve made progress and without getting into classified stuff, it takes relationship building. I mean, the person that’s going to give you information on a situation that’s developing in a foreign country, who may have a job or a position that’s close by where he’ll be able to observe and understand what’s happening and get that back to you, developing that relationship is something that takes a period of time. That’s what intelligence is; human intelligence is a series of developed relationships. There’s no quick fix on that things. You can’t microwave and you can’t e-mail a relationship. It’s something that takes a long time. In the 1990s under the Clinton Administration, we divested ourselves of a huge part of our case managers, our operators, our people who have those relationships. It’s hard to sew those back together in a short period of time. My answer is that it’s a lot better than it was a few years ago, and because of our presence in the Middle East right now, we have a lot of connections and a lot of contacts. But maturing those contacts in the long term, a long-term intelligence apparatus, is a slow building process. But it’s getting better. We have what is known as national technical means — that is our apparatus gives us eyes and ears through technical capability. That’s been developing apace and that’s helpful to us. Also the intelligence capability that emanates from our war fighters is also pretty substantial. So it’s an imperfect situation and you’ve got other places in the world, like North Korea, where you have almost no penetration, and it’s very difficult to ever get intelligence penetration from a closed society with massive scrutiny, especially if it’s governmental efficiency. So we have certain areas where we just have to work with big blind spots.
To answer your question, we have reacted with lots of efficiencies in small compartmentalized areas against these people who have tried to kill Americans. The fact that you have Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who is the prime architect according to his own testimony and who will be coming up for trial, one of the guys who’s been held in Guantanamo — if the Democrats don’t follow through on this kind of silly insistence that we either try them or free them, we’re going to be trying that guy. That’s one of the guys responsible for killing millions of Americans. He was picked up in a very efficient way. Zarqawi, as you know, was killed in Iraq in a safe house, also a function of America’s intelligence operations, our capability to couple that with precision strike. So we have made a lot of small victories in places where the American people don’t see the victory, but what they do see is we’ve gone without a strike on our homeland for a number of years now, which is quite remarkable and quite a testament to the people who serve in the US military and US intelligence agencies. Now we can always get better and we have to keep building, but once again this is not a system. Human intelligence is not a system that you can turn out with a microwave. It’s long term.
EM: I know we’re going to have to let you go pretty quick because you’re on a tight schedule here, Congressman Hunter, but just to talk a little bit about the race, we’ve seen a couple of people jump out into an early lead in early polling in the Republican primary. It’s tough for a Congressman to run for President. I think you’ve probably got the best résumé of anybody who’s tried that in a very long time. What’s your strategy to try to pull some of that momentum away from the two or three people who seem to be enjoying more of it right now?
DH: Well, first you have to get the word out. Our website is www.gohunter08.com and that tells you a lot about our campaign. If you go to that website, you can find out a lot about what we’re doing. But this is a building process, and I think that the publicity will follow the message. I’ve been doing a lot of national shows based on my work on the Armed Services Committee as a former Chairman and now ranking member, so we get some good coverage there. We’ve gone from, in a national poll in January we were at basically at zero percent in the polls; nobody knew about me. In February we went to 1% and in this last poll we went to 2%. Now that doesn’t sound like much, but I think in that same poll Mr. Romney was at 7%, so he’s only five ahead of me and he’s spent $12 million so far. Now in the areas where we can focus, like the Arizona straw poll among elected Republican leaders, I won that straw poll because they knew about my border fence and they voted for me. In the biggest straw poll that’s been held in South Carolina where people had to actually go to the polls and vote – that’s the Spartanburg Straw Poll (that was the one carried live on Fox News – I came in within one percentage point of the top of McCain and Giuliani at 22%, and I beat Romney by 2-1, even though he probably spent 2- or 300,000 on that straw poll. So, my point is where we can focus and get our message out, we get lots of votes. What I have to do is keep working, keep being on shows like yours and keep getting this message out to the American people. I think that at some point the money follows the message because big donors, especially multi-national companies, have operations in China and elsewhere are not the folks that in the end control the American political scene. Whether you donate $2,300 or $5, everybody has one vote. I think our message is one that resonates with average Americans, folks that carry a lunch bucket for a living and don’t necessarily have a piece of stock in a company that’s overseas, that really care deeply about this country. I think that among people that really care deeply about this country, I’ve got a lot of support.
EM: Congressman Hunter, thank you for sharing that with us today. I would hope to have you back soon. Best of luck to you. I think you are picking up some traction here and I look forward to talking to you as one of the frontrunners.
DH: Well listen, thank you. Thank you so much and frontrunner or not, I look forward to being back on your show and thank you, and God bless our country.
EM: Thank you sir, I appreciate it. That was Congressman Duncan Hunter, who is running for President and also the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, one of the genuine good guys there in Congress. You can see Congressman Hunter’s efforts to run for President at www.gohunter08.com.

CQ Radio Today: Team Rudy

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Today’s installment of CQ Radio will feature Katie Levinson of the Rudy Giuliani campaign in the second half of the show. Levinson works as a spokesperson for the campaign and will answer our questions about Rudy’s platform, his strategies, and his outreach to conservatives. We’ll also be talking about the supplemental spending bill for the Iraq war, and a new addition to Blog Talk Radio that I think will generate a great deal of enthusiasm.
Join the conversation today at 646-652-4889 when we go to air at 2 pm CT!
UPDATE: I’ll also be talking about the conflicting stories regarding Barbara Comstock and her potential shift from Mitt Romney to Fred Thompson — reported yesterday by the New Hampshire Insider and refuted by Chris Cillizza at The Fix. Chris also had a couple of posts about John McCain and his efforts to reshuffle the deck at his campaign, both in tone and in personnel.
Don’t forget to call in your questions to either me or Katie Levinson …

CQ Radio Transcript: Duncan Hunter, Part 1

Our inaugural edition of the daily CQ Radio show featured an excellent chat with Congressman Duncan Hunter. Hunter has started campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination, and his efforts are based on his national-security and trade policies. Hunter served for years on the Armed Services Committee and chaired it for four years, and he brings an informed perspective to those issues. This is Part 1 of the Hunter interview; part 2 will be posted tomorrow.
EM: Our first guest and it’s a tremendous honor, let me introduce Congressman Duncan Hunter, the Congressman has served 27 years in the House, chairing the House Armed Services Committee for four of them. He fought in Vietnam with Airborne and Ranger units, and he lives near the Mexican border and wants to be our next President, and those two facts are not unrelated. Welcome to CQ Radio, sir.
DH: Thanks. Great to be with you.
EM: Well, Congressman Hunter, we certainly appreciate you taking time off of your busy schedule to talk to us here today. I got a chance to take a look at your campaign website today, and I’m just going to give that address out for our listeners. The address is www.gohunter08.com. On the website, you have three main issues highlighted for your campaign, and that’s securing the borders, fair trade, and the war on terror. I’d like to start with the second, as it seems to be a little different than the traditional Republican things of free trade, and I’d like to ask you what the difference is between free trade and what you’re representing as fair trade.
DH: Well, right now, China is cheating on trade. And let me tell you as Chairman of the Armed Services Committee two years ago when our guys started getting hurt by roadside bombs in Iraq, I sent our teams out from the Armed Services Committee in Washington to find an American steel company that could make high-grade armor steel plate that we could put on the sides of our Humvees. We found only one company left in America still capable of making high-grade armor steel plate, and when the Swiss cut off our main guidance devices for our smart bombs because they didn’t like our Iraq policy, we could only find one company left in this country that still made those guidance devices. So the great arsenal of democracy, that is our industrial base, our ability to make things, is being fractured and sent overseas because of unfair trade practices by other countries, and China is a big part of that and China is cheating on trade right now.
Let me tell you what they’re doing. They’re devaluing their currency by 40%. That means that if the microphone that you’re talking into right now is made in China, and it costs a hundred bucks, and it’s shipped to the United States, when it goes to the water’s edge in China to be shipped, to be exported to us in the United States, the government of China gives that exporter, that Chinese company, a 17% rebate of all their taxes. They have a VAT tax, that’s a value-added tax in China; they give them all their tax money back. Now everybody, except the United States in the trading regimen that we operate under, under GAT, gets to rebate every country except the US gets to rebate to its exporters all their tax money. We’re the only dummies who signed up to this deal with an agreement that we couldn’t rebate our taxes to our exporters. But beyond that, China devalues its currency by 40%. That means that if that microphone you’re talking into is on a showroom floor somewhere in the world, and there’s an American microphone sitting next to it and they’re both a hundred bucks, the government of China basically walks by and says, “We just had a markdown. We marked our product down to $60.” Because by devaluing their currency as compared to the American dollar, they make that product cheaper, in many cases they’ve made the Chinese product cheaper than even the materials that the Americans would use to build the product. Now what that does is sweep American products off the shelf around the world, not only in the United States but around the world, and that is motivating many American companies to pack up and move their production to China. What that means to me as a guy who cares about defense is that at some point in the future, we’re going to need this great arsenal of democracy, this industrial base of this country, and we’re going to find out that by dumb trade policies, and by allowing others like China to cheat on the policies, we’ve moved a great deal of our industrial capability offshore. I’m very concerned about that.
As the American President, you do a couple of things that are uniquely reserved to the Executive branch. One is to negotiate arms control deals, and the other is to negotiate trade deals. And like Ronald Reagan negotiating arms control deals, when he was saw a bad one, he junked it and he brought they guys back to the table for another deal. I will junk bad trade deals and bring our competitors back to the table for another deal. There is no such thing as free trade when one country is cheating and not following the rules. That’s another saying of Ronald Reagan. Right now, the Chinese are cheating, and they’re buying ships and planes and missiles, lots of military equipment, with American trade dollars.
EM: Do you see this as primarily a problem with the Chinese, or do you see NAFTA and CAFTA as being part of a trade policy that may be too problematic for American businesses?
DH: I see first that we’ve signed a dumb trade deal with the rest of the world. If you understand what we’ve done, we’ve signed a deal that says with all these countries which have value-added tax systems, that’s a VAT tax, that they can rebate all of their taxes to their exporters. So that means that if you have a table company or a car company in Mexico, in France, in Japan, take any of the top 25 trading nations in the world, all of those countries rebate, give back all the taxes to their manufacturers. There’s only one country that’s not allowed to give its taxes back to its manufacturers under the deal we signed. That’s the United States. So that means if you make a product in your studio where you’re at right now, you’re probably going to pay 20% of your cost will be embedded tax cost. Corporate taxes, property taxes, etc. When you send that product to another country, you will have paid American taxes while you’re making the product here, and when it arrives in the other country, like China, they will hit you with a penalty for all of their taxes, which in China is 17%. So you’ll pay 20% taxes in the US making your product, then when your product gets to China they’ll add 17% on top of that, so you will have a product that ends up on the showroom floor in China at 37% taxes. Your competitor, who may be shipping his product to the United States, will have no taxes. He will have his taxes rebated to him by the government of China, so he pays no Chinese taxes. And when that product gets to the United States, we let it in duty-free, so he pays no American taxes. So this is like you working with a competitor across the street who operates tax free. That means that basically you have to hit a home run every day just to keep your head above water. That’s why hundreds of financial consultants around the country every week are advising their companies to pack up their production and move it offshore.
So you have a problem with the deal that we made. We made a dumb business deal. Trade deals are basically business deals between nations. We made a dumb business deal with the rest of the trading world, but beyond that, China is cheating on the deal that we do have because they’re devaluing their currency 40%. What that is, is a government subsidy of 40% to every product that they make, and that is killing American industry in this country.
EM: So, is there a way out of …
DH: There’s a way out…if you’ve got a bad business deal you can always pull out of it. We reserve the right to remove ourselves from these deals. We need to renegotiate. Very clearly, the people that told us that NAFTA was going to be the greatest thing in show business have been proven wrong. When we passed NAFTA, they said that we’re going to build on this $3 billion trade surplus that we had with Mexico in 1994. It went immediately to a $15 billion trade loss. With respect to China, we’ve given Most Favored Nation trading status to China and we’d have this deal with them that they’re cheating on right now. They now have us at a $2-$300 billion trade loss annually with China and they’re using American billions to buy ships and planes and missiles. They just bought these Sovremenny-class missile destroyers from the Russians, which were designed to kill American aircraft carriers. So we need to do what Ronald Reagan did when he saw bad arms-control deals. That’s to junk those deals, bring the competitors back to the table for another deal, put together a group of good, hard-headed, sharp businessmen, let’s put together a deal that benefits American workers and American businesses. That’s called smart trade.
We’ve been engaged in to date dumb trade, and the problem with China is that that involves a security element because Chinese are one country with the industrial capacity that could challenge us strongly in the future in a military way, and it’s not very smart of the United States to be sending them the hard dollars that they’re using to arm. China I arming right now. They’ve got heavy submarine development right now. They’ve got lots of tactical fighter development going on. They shot a satellite out of space January 11th. That heralded a new era of competition in space on a military basis with China, because America’s military assets depend highly on our eyes in space. And so we have a real security dimension to the trade problem with China. The answer is we’ve got to fix those things, and the American president is the one who’s in the best position to negotiate change; I’m going to negotiate change.
EM: Congressman Hunter, I’m glad we’re talking about this because there’s another aspect to the supplier issue, I think, in terms of defense. By the way for our listeners, if you want to call in and talk to Congressman Duncan Hunter, you can call (646) 652-4889. But Congressman, I worked with the defense industry a long time ago, and at the time that I worked in the defense industry, there were probably one or two dozen companies that could be prime contractors, defense contracts for defense systems, and over the years the consolidation of the defense contracting industry, we’re really left with about only two or three different companies that are capable of being prime contractors for systems. Do you see that as also part of the problem in getting supplies and getting sources for some of these materials?
DH: Of course, that’s totally unrelated to the trade issue.
EM: Exactly, and you’re right. I’m sorry.
DH: No, no, that’s still an issue and it’s still a problem and you’re absolutely right, Ed. You know, the less competition you have in defense, the fewer innovations you’re going to have, and of course, the higher the cost is going to be. Now let me tell you what I did a couple of years ago to meet this problem. I introduced a program and put it into law called the Challenge Program. The Challenge Program was based on the idea that even though you had a prime contractor, let’s call him an incumbent contractor, which were generally the biggest contractors, which had a system. Let’s say it made a particular system for the F-22 aircraft. Because most of our innovation comes out of small companies, a small company could challenge that large company for that particular component of that big program. Let’s say there was some kind of a guidance system in the F-22 aircraft. You could challenge the incumbent and the Department of Defense could take a look at what you had and if it was a throwaway idea, it wasn’t very good, they could dismiss it very quickly, but if it looked like it had some merit they could evaluate it, and if it looked like you did have more war-fighting capability for a better price, or a combination of those two factors, then the challenger could be given the contract and the incumbent booted on that particular contract. And I gave lots of discretion to DOD. They could wait, for example, until the present contract ran out and then renegotiate using the challenger with the better system, or if it was a very extreme situation, or a critical situation, one in which they were being vastly overcharged, they could actually kick out the incumbent contractor and give the new guy, the challenger, a shot at the deal. That was passed to encourage innovation.
Now in practice, the Pentagon hasn’t made it all that I wanted it to be. They’ve relegated it to more of a small business set-aside type of thing, but they way you get innovation in defense is to get lots of defense companies into the game and the rounds of consolidation did not help our innovation in national security.
EM: Well, I’m glad you answered that question because it’s been a concern of mine over the years watching this consolidation. It’s one of the reasons why I think that your candidacy has got so much substance to it. It’s because you’ve been really working on all of these issues around national security and national defense for all these years, and I’m glad to be able to pick your brain on that. Thank you very much.
DH: Absolutely.
Note: I received dozens of offers for transcriptions, and I will reply to each of you shortly. I’d love to spread the effort around, if people don’t mind, so please accept my apologies for a slow response and stay patient. I honestly had no idea I’d get this much of a response!